Panasonic TC-PS1 series -- overview

Plasma has been ceding ground to LCD for years, and the latest patches of territory at risk are screen sizes above 50 inches. Panasonic, both sheriff and principal resident of plasma town, has traditionally ruled the vast-sized flat-panel frontier with an iron fist, but with LCDs available in new 55-inch and, lately, 65-inch versions for competitive prices, the company has had to continually make its own big screens more affordable. The happy result, at least for HDTV shoppers with room to spare, is that larger models can be had for chunks of change that seem small by historical standards. And while the bigger sets in Panasonic's TC-PS1 series plasma might surprise you with their affordability, they also deliver better picture quality than most of their large LCD competition.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--corner detail

Plain glossy black and rounded edges characterize the S1's conservative look.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--back panel inputs

Two HDMI and two component-video inputs are available around back, but a PC input goes missing.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--side panel inputs

The side panel sports a third HDMI jack, an AV input, and an SD card slot.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--remote control

Panasonic's remote is quite good except for an unnecessarily prominent trio of keys--Viera Link, Viera Tools, and SD Card--that arc above the central cursor control. Each provides direct access to functions we'll warrant most users won't access frequently, and the trio relegates the more important, yet now-tiny, Menu key to a secondary spot near the top of the clicker. We like the feel of the keys, however, and the size, color, and shape differentiation helps us forget that none of the buttons is illuminated. The remote cannot control other devices via infrared (IR) commands, but it does allow some control of compatible HDMI devices connected to the TV via VieraLink (aka HDMI-CEC).
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--Tools menu

The VieraTools menu delivers a few shortcuts, but they're not all that useful.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--main picture menu

Panasonic's main picture menu includes a good selection of presets and a straightforward design.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--advanced picture menu

Compared with most other TVs, the S1's advanced controls are nearly nonexistent.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--anti image retention menu

A special menu is dedicated to alleviating fears of burn-in, aka image retention.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--Eco menu

Although it has a few power-saving options, the S1 is missing a specific mode designed to reduce energy use.
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Panasonic TC-PS1 series--picture quality

The TC-PS1 series delivered excellent picture quality, with deep black levels and realistic shadow detail, the former helping lend plenty of impact to colors. Color accuracy itself was an issue, as we've seen on previous Panasonic plasmas, but not enough to spoil an otherwise commendable performance. Speaking of previous plasmas, although we didn't have the TC-P42S1 we reviewed earlier on-hand to compare, as far as we can tell the picture quality of the two units was largely identical.
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